Preparing for Junior High / Middle School
Middle school (or junior high) is a time for your child to start exploring their interests. They can take various elective courses and try different middle school extracurricular activities. Middle school age, around 10-14, is a time to introduce students to ideas for careers, athletics, fine arts, clubs, etc. This will give middle schoolers an idea of what they would like to pursue during their high school years.
If your child is interested in applying for a magnet program, the online applications usually become available during the fall for the following school year. Some middle school magnets and academies are performing arts schools or STEM schools. Magnet application requirements vary between schools, so contact your school district directly to find out about eligibility. Explore these and many other enriching and academic programs
Start Middle School / Junior High School Right!
Remember that starting middle school can be overwhelming for children that are accustomed to the comfort of a single classroom with the same teacher and classmates. They might be anxious about being the youngest group of students at school. They could be intimidated by the size of a new campus and fearful of getting lost. We have included useful tips and information to help you and your tween make the transition to middle school less stressful!
Before the First Day – Tips to Help your Tween Transition to Middle School
- Tour the school. Make sure your child knows how to find their classes, the cafeteria, bathrooms, library. Walk the school with the class schedule to get comfortable moving from room to room.
- Read the student handbook. Become familiar with things like tardy policies, bell schedules, drop-off and pick-up procedures, and the time between classes. The more information you have before the first day will ease anxiety and first-day jitters.
- Print out a map of the school and highlight your classrooms. This will come in handy if you get caught up in crowded hallways and forget where to go.
- If your school uses lockers with combination locks, practice using combination locks at home. The more you use the locks, the faster you can get into your locker with ease. (2)
How to Support Your Middle Schooler
- Help your child create an organizational system during the first few weeks of school. The organization is the key to staying on top of assignments and easing stress.
- Encourage your child to talk to teachers. Middle school teachers care about their students’ success, and they are available to answer questions.
- Learn and use your school’s online grading and assignment system. Your child can use this tool to stay aware of their grades, and you can keep an eye on their progress.
- Work on time management. Middle school introduces projects that may take longer than your child is used to. Learning time management is a skill that students can use for a lifetime.
- Encourage your child to find activities that they are interested in. Junior high is a perfect time to join middle school sports, clubs, athletics, music, theater, and so much more. Subscribe to magazines for kids, like National Geographic Kids Magazine, or use National Geographic’s online middle school resources, to further exploration of interests
- Remind your child that they will meet many new friends by switching classrooms for each period. Advise your child about being themselves and being kind to others.
- And for some fun, check out books that can help your child feel like they are not alone. The middle school book series, Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life, by James Patterson, makes the drama and stress of middle school more relatable and funny as one of the top gifts for tweens.
Middle School Success by Year
- Get to know your learning style – Do you retain information better by seeing, hearing, or doing?
- Develop good study habits based on your learning style.
- Start using a calendar or agenda. Plan ahead, study a little every day, and prepare for exams ahead of time. Break down big projects into smaller tasks.
- Attend school regularly, and aim for good grades.
- Do your homework!
- Talk to your parents or guardian about what you are doing in school each day. Adults can help you navigate complicated social situations as well as give you advice on career and educational goals.
- Participate in school activities such as fine arts, JROTC, or sports.
- Join clubs that interest you.
- Keep doing your homework!
- Start thinking about career options, and talk with your parents or guardians about career possibilities.
- Continue to practice good study habits and organizational skills.
- Keep working hard to get good grades.
- Start thinking about your educational goals beyond high school. Do you see yourself in higher education, trade school, or military?
- Meet with your school counselor to discuss your ninth-grade course options.
- Think about pursuing or continuing extracurricular activities for high school such as sports, performing arts, volunteer work, or school clubs. Searching, “guitar lessons near me,” and other activities or interests are worth the investment.
Preparing for High School
- Focus on building good study habits. Organization, self-directed or independent learning, and time management skills are important in high school.
- Decide whether to sign up for academic-level or applied-level classes. Knowing your learning pace in middle school will help you choose the best fit in order to keep up with the material.
- Visit the school beforehand. Many schools have open house days where new students can explore the school and learn where key locations are (like homeroom, the library, the counseling office, and the cafeteria). This will give your child a chance to become more familiar with the school so he or she isn’t completely overwhelmed on the first day.
- Attend orientation. Orientation gives you a chance to pick up your class schedule, meet teachers, get supply lists and syllabuses, and learn what to expect from high school. Orientation is also a great time to meet new classmates
- Create an agenda or calendar to plan your time in school and out of school.
- Make sure you start the year with the correct supplies.
- Sign up for extracurricular activities and/or clubs and explore different interests. (3,4)
Do Colleges Look at Middle School Grades?
Colleges never look at middle school grades. Junior high age is too young for a college to get a true picture of a student, and middle school grading standards vary between districts so they are more subjective.
Though colleges do not consider middle school grades, students should still aim to get the best grades possible. High middle school grades increase the chances of getting into advanced academics or AP classes as a high school freshman. Colleges consider advanced classes when admitting students.
Middle school also introduces students to good study and testing habits. Those skills can then be used in high school, which makes it easier to get good grades in high school classes. (1)
Resources for Middle Schoolers and Additional Information
How to Prepare Your Child for High School– Oxford Learning (3)
Transition Tips for Children Starting Middle School– The Happy Home Life (2)
Middle School Timeline– My Plan.com
5 Ways to Prepare Middle School Students for High School– Minds in Bloom (4)
School Finder– Middle Schools Near Me- Go Public
Middle School Books- 50 Refreshing and Relatable Books– We Are Teachers
Do Colleges Look at Middle School Grades?– Prep Scholar (1)
Kids Magazines– Middle School- K-12 Reading List
Go Public content producer and parent of two public school students, Trina Pruitt, developed the Education Timeline to help herself and other parents learn what to expect at each phase of a child’s journey in school.
Go Public’s Education Timeline is the ultimate parent guide for navigating Pre-K through graduation. The purpose is to help parents know what to expect at each grade level and provide guidance on all that is offered in a public education. A huge benefit of public schools are the resources that support a student. The Education Timeline serves as a compass for navigating those resources. Each phase will also have helpful information, guides, and checklists.
The Timeline was researched and compiled from multiple sources cited throughout each phase. Refer to the timeline graphic below for the featured grade level. Click on each icon to learn more about what to expect and how to prepare.